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What to do if you get ill on a cruise

Written by: Russell Wallace | Travel Insurance Expert
Last updated: 27 March 2024 | Created: 27 March 2024
Senior couple enjoying a cruise.

Taking a cruise is a wonderful way to explore the world, letting you relax in style. But what if you become ill? How can you get the best care possible and avoid ruining your holiday? 

Follow these tips to help you cope with health issues you might face when cruising.

Know Your Symptoms

If you feel unwell on a ship, the first thing to do is identify your symptoms and their possible causes. This is especially vital if you have pre-existing medical conditions.  Some common health problems that can affect you on a cruise are:

Motion sickness

Caused by the ship’s movement, motion sickness can make you feel dizzy and nauseous and lead to vomiting. It usually goes away once you get used to the motion or when the ship stops moving. You can prevent or treat motion sickness by taking anti-nausea medication, wearing acupressure wristbands, staying hydrated and avoiding alcohol.


Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever. It can spread quickly through contaminated food, water or surfaces on a cruise ship. You can prevent norovirus by washing your hands frequently and drinking bottled water. If you catch norovirus, you should stay in your cabin, drink plenty of fluids and contact the ship’s medical staff.

Respiratory infections

These are caused by bacteria or viruses that affect your lungs, throat or nose. They can cause coughing, sneezing, sore throat, fever and difficulty breathing. You can prevent respiratory infections by washing your hands often, avoiding overcrowded areas and wearing a mask if required. If you have a respiratory illness, you should seek medical attention, take medication as prescribed and rest.

Seek Medical Help

If your symptoms are severe or persistent, you should seek medical help immediately. Most ships have a medical centre on board where you can get treatment from qualified doctors and nurses. They can perform tests, diagnose your condition, prescribe medication, and refer you to a hospital if necessary.

You should always carry your Travel Insurance details when visiting the medical centre. Cruise Travel Insurance covers the cost of medical care and repatriation costs in case you need to be flown home for further treatment.

If your policy includes Cruise Cover, being confined to your cabin by the medical staff on board means, you’ll be able to claim for cabin confinement and unused excursions.

If you need help in a medical emergency, please call our 24-hour emergency assistance line on +44 (0) 203 467 4122.

Protect Yourself with Cruise Travel Insurance

Cruise Travel Insurance gives you peace of mind and protection during your trip. You will need it to have any cover while you’re cruising. You can add Cruise Cover to our Gold Plus policies, and it is included as standard on our Platinum level of cover.

Don’t let illness ruin your holiday. Get AllClear Cruise Travel Insurance today and enjoy your cruise with confidence.